A video showing a group of men in an unknown location in Milton skinning a cow around the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha is garnering a lot of attention online.
“Take a look, a cow is being butchered the halal way on Eid-al-Adha as a sacrifice,” says a man in the video in Urdu.
The video has been viewed more than 100,000 times after it was retweeted by Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah.
Twitter user @KishanAnanthram says “It definitely looked like it was still alive. Its head moved a few times. So sad and horrific. Could they not kill it in a humane manner before they skinned it?”
But Halton Police say they don’t believe the animal was alive while it was being skinned. Staff Sergeant Paul Davies told CityNews the animal was already dead in the video.
“I know that some people had thought the animal was alive but if you look closely at the video the head movement of the animal is caused by the horns kind of digging into the ground and making the head appear to be moving when in fact that animal is clearly dead,” says Davies.
Twitter user @kevinmklerks says “I know this is some religious thing for them, but don’t we have laws protecting animals against cruel and inhumane treatment when slaughtered?”
The slaughter of a cow, lamb or goat is a ritual Muslims practice around the world, honouring the willingness of Abraham sacrificing his son as an act of obedience to God. Muslims commemorate this annually by offering an animal of sacrifice on Eid-al-Adha.
But Imam Shabir Ally says most Muslims in Canada do not perform the ritual themselves.
“Many Muslims in Canada find it inconvenient to go to a farm and have the animal sacrificed there,” says Ally. “They would instead pay an international charitable group to have the sacrifice done on their behalf in another part of the world where there are a lot of poor people who would benefit greatly from the meat.”
In addition, Imam Ally says there are very specific rules and protocol to be followed while performing the ritual.
“Even when it comes down to slaughtering an animal, that too shall be done with kindness. You are to feed the animal well, keep the animal in as good condition as possible and when it comes time for slaughtering, you should sharpen your blade so that the cut should be swift,” he says.
The video has garnered so much negative attention that the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman released a statement to address it.
“This video is disgusting and gruesome. There is absolutely no tolerance for this sort of treatment of animals in our province or in our backyards,” he says.
“The Ministry of Agriculture immediately launched an investigation into this video. Our government for the people is committed to protecting animals and ensuring food safety.The Ministry has been speaking with investigative bodies regarding the incident, and will have more to say following the results of the investigation.”
Halton Police say under current regulations, a slaughter can only occur at a slaughterhouse and they are currently investigating where this incident took place.